Venezuela's tin pot dictatorship took another path towards dystopia Tuesday when its specially created fake parliament unanimously approved legislation to try opposition leaders for treason.
The Constituent Assembly promised treason trials against those "engaged in the promotion of these immoral actions against the interests of the Venezuelan people." But as the BBC notes, this action won't solely target opposition leaders, it will also focus on former members of the ruling socialist party who have fallen out with Nicolas Maduro.
The scale of those targeted and the venom with which Maduro's puppets spouted their propaganda means major purges are now likely. In ominous language, the Constituent Assembly described the head of Venezuela's opposition party, Julio Borges, as "one of the real enemies of Venezuela." This might be news to some Venezuelans, in that Borges leads the country's democratically elected National Assembly. Regardless, as Venezuela's economic disaster and the social pressure on the streets continues to grow, Maduro is growing increasingly aggressive. The Venezuelan crisis seems unlikely to end with a peaceful compromise.
The U.S. should respond to this ongoing assault on Venezuela's starving population.
First, the U.S. must sanction top Maduro officials like Delcy Rodriguez. These kleptocrats are the true traitors, and must be reminded that they will eventually face consequences for their choices. They must know that whenever Venezuela's national nightmare ends and a democratic government eventually takes hold, the U.S. will help that government hold Venezuela's enemies to account.
The U.S. must also prepare tougher sanctions on Venezuela's oil sector. In the end, cutting those funding flows is the only way to exert the kind of pressure necessary to separate the regime from the Venezuelan armed forces. If the regime cannot pay its already poorly paid soldiers, those young men are unlikely to keep attacking their fellow citizens on the streets. The history of successful revolutions proves that the loyalty of security forces is the key pivot on which a regime survives or falls.
Ultimately, as we decide what to do, the U.S. faces one of two choices. Either we can watch the Venezuelan people starve and suffer at the hands of a corrupt government, or we can take escalating action to help them reach a better future.